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Ted Lieu: Tackling Trump on Twitter

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, addressing the Democratic National Convention in 2016. (Photo: Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

Rep. Ted Lieu says he’s surprised by how much reaction he’s gotten nationally for his anti-Trump and other pointed tweets.

The Southern California Democrat, whose district includes Beverly Hills and Malibu, said he’s been tweeting since long before the president took office.

“I decided when I was a state legislator that I was going to tell the truth,” he said.

Lieu said he and his brother spent many hours working at the cash register and moving boxes around. He is grateful to count his family among the many immigrant success stories.

He now has 634,000 followers on Twitter, a huge jump from the 122,000 he had a year ago when the Washington Post profiled him for his outspoken tweets. Much of his five-fold boost in traffic appears fueled by his aggressive, no-holds-barred criticism of Trump.

Responding to the national March for Our Lives anti-gun violence student protests last weekend, Lieu tweeted, “Today shows that not only do Democrats have a better deal, we represent the Future. @realDonaldTrump and Republicans represent the past.” Also: “How do we know is having a significant effect? Trump and Republican House leadership are afraid to talk about it. Did you see any tweets by & about the marches? Nope. Instead, Ryan tweeted about a student internship program.”

His tweets aren’t always so gentle. Commenting on the Trump administration’s response to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico, Lieu tweeted, “Dear : I am a Naturalized Citizen. Since you may be monitoring our social media, I want to say your response to Puerto Rico sucks.” He frequently called out then-White House spokesman Sean Spicer: “@seanspicer at #WhiteHouse makes s— up.”

Rep. Karen Bass, a former Assembly speaker who knew Lieu in the state Legislature, said he has always been passionate about issues that are important to him. “I think that’s one of his biggest strengths in addition to his determination to do what’s right.”

Born in Taiwan, Lieu, 48 (his birthday is March 29), moved to the U.S. with his family when he was only 3. They landed in Cleveland, Ohio where his parents started selling gifts at flea markets and ultimately owned six gift shops. Lieu said he and his brother spent many hours working at the cash register and moving boxes around. He is grateful to count his family among the many immigrant success stories.

“That’s why I love America,” he said. “It’s one of the few countries that allows this to happen on a regular basis.”

According to FiveThirtyEight.com,  Lieu infrequently supports Trump’s positions on the House floor, although he backed the president on military spending and natural disaster relief, among other issues.

His parents’ hard work allowed him to attend Stanford University, where he majored in computer science and political science. He then went on to get a law degree from Georgetown University.

His gratitude to the U.S. motivated him to join the U.S. Air Force, where he served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He currently serves as a colonel in the Air Force Reserves.

His military service makes some question whether he should be so critical of Trump.

Arthur Schaper, a member of the Beach City Republicans, said Lieu is treasonous. “He’s supposed to be a colonel in the military and he is actively undermining our commander in chief.”

A Breitbart News article wondered whether Lieu could be court-martialed. “In addition to obeying his oath of office, Rep. Lieu is subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) — including Article 88, which prohibits commissioned officers, in or out of uniform, from using ‘contemptuous words’ against the president and other high officials,” according to the January 2017 article.  Actually, as the Post noted, he can’t be court-martialed and he doesn’t tweet on duty.

According to FiveThirtyEight.com,  Lieu infrequently supports Trump’s positions on the House floor, although he backed the president on military spending and natural disaster relief, among other issues.

Lieu cites Al Gore’s 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” as a major factor in inspiring him to work on solutions to global warming.

But Lieu has more than enough supporters in his left-leaning district who continue to cheer him on.

At the same time, he lives a fairly conservative life with a long marriage to his wife Betty and their two school-age sons.

Lieu began his political career at the Torrance City Council in 2002 while working as a lawyer for private companies.

He moved on to the state assembly in 2005 and then to the state senate in 2011 after a failed run to get the Democratic nomination for state attorney general (he lost to Kamala Harris).

He said his proudest accomplishments in the state Legislature were authoring the first bill in the nation to ban gay conversion therapy in 2012 and co-authoring Assembly Bill 32 on global warming solutions in 2006.

Lieu has been a consistent advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. “I’ve been very passionate about civil rights whether based on sexual orientation, gender or race,” he said. “I believe discrimination in any form is wrong and we need to do what we can to stop that.”

Lieu cites Al Gore’s 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” as a major factor in inspiring him to work on solutions to global warming. Though he knew about the problem before and even worked on promoting green buildings in Torrance, he said the film spurred him to take more action.

Lieu has continued his work on climate change since being elected to Congress in 2014. His first piece of legislation was the Climate Solutions Act of 2015 to take what California is doing with Assembly Bill 32 and make it national.

But, he says,  the thing that keeps him up at night is North Korea.

He serves on the house foreign affairs committee and he knows from his days stationed at Guam in the Air Force that the U.S. has no good military options to overturn the current regime. The Pentagon says it would take a bloody ground war to go in and there would be a risk of a nuclear attack in response. He’s concerned about the appointment of John Bolton as national security adviser, who he believes doesn’t adequately understand the situation.

Lieu said he has no plans to stop speaking out – and tweeting – against Trump. “I decided that when he lies or does stupid things, I’ll put that out.”

He continues to wait for Republicans to join him.

“It’s disappointing that more Republicans don’t stand up to inappropriate and bizarre behavior by the president of the United States.”

 


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